Reminiscences of Ware's Past Part 3 - 25th May 1983
The meeting was chaired by Dr Roger Lowery, Chairman of the Ware Society, who began by introducing the four speakers. The book begins, however, with a rather longer biographical note supplied by each of the speakers themselves:
MR RICHARD C. ANDREWS was born in October 1910 at 20 Crib Street, Ware, a substantial six-bedroom house with a balcony overlooking the malting yards at the back. After school at St. Mary's in Church Street and the Ware Central School on Musley Hill, he entered the Post Office and, at the same time, enlisted as a "boy" in the "Drums" of the Hertfordshire Regiment (T.A.), which were trained in the Drill Hall and much in demand for marching displays and Beating the Retreat at fetes and gymkhanas. He was mobilized with the Regiment in August 1939 and was later commissioned and seconded to the King's African Rifles, with whom he served abroad until the end of the second world war. He was a founder member of the Ware Branch of the Hertfordshire Regimental Old Comrades' Association and their chairman for ten years. After demobilization, he entered the Civil Service and worked in London. Hobbies: his house, garden, allotment and playing golf.
MR ALBERT A. WIGGALL was born in 1895 in North Warwickshire where, after school, he studied mining engineering. In 1926, at the time of the General Strike, he went to Manchester to study hairdressing and in 1932 he moved with his family to Ware, having bought the ladies' and gents' hairdressing business at 31 Baldock Street (now Surridge’s (now Snowdrop House)). In 1935, Mr Wiggall opened another hairdressing business at 9 New Road (now Vincent's). He was a member of the former Ware Urban District Council from 1946-64, was chairman of the Housing Committee and Chairman of the Council from 1935-55, which included Coronation Year. In 25 years of public service, he was chairman of the Ware Charity Estates and of the Lea and Stort Development Committee, a member of the Governing Body of Presdales School and President of the Ware Town Football, Cricket and Bowls Clubs.
MR FRED W. WOODHOUSE has lived in Ware for over 70 years. He became a member of the Ware Division of the St. John Ambulance Brigade in 1924 and served in that division for 36 years, taking over the task of Secretary, later being promoted to Divisional Officer and then to Divisional Superintendent, which office he held for eleven years, serving under the Medical Officer, Dr W. G. (Bill) May. Mr Woodhouse is now a Serving Brother of the Order of St. John. He retired from his job as a painter and sign writer some years ago and his main hobbies are now watercolour painting and helping with a class at Age Concern.
MR REGINALD R. BOUTTELL left school at the age of 14 in 1913 to join the Colchester Post Office as a boy messenger and in 1916 transferred to Ware Post Office as a sorting clerk and telegraphist at a wage of 14s. a week. In 1929, he succeeded in the competition for a Clerical Officer in the Ministry of Health, becoming an Assistant Inspector in London and the Home Counties in 1931 and Regional Officer in Cambridge and the Eastern Region in 1939. Mr BoutteII transferred to the Ministry of Works as a Staff Officer and Licensing Officer for Civil Building Control in 1944 and, finally, became Manager of the Hertford National Insurance Office in 1948 until his retirement in 1962.
DR LOWERY opened the meeting by asking if anyone knew where the Vineyard was.
MR ANDREWS: It was off Musley Lane opposite Garland Road, in the area where the cul-de-sac east of King George's Road was built. Opposite Garland Road there is a lane which used to be known as Dark Lane: that led right up to Fanhams Hall. On the left of that lane was the Vineyard and it was ideally situated as such. I think it must have been in use when the Romans were in the area of Allenbury's, because they would have chosen that sort of site, sloping up from the south to the north. And, what is more, it was on clay which is a very well-known medium for the growth of vines, almost as good as the slate which you get in Italy and parts of Germany. There was a hedge to the north end of it, which must have been many hundreds of years old, and I should think that at the time it afforded protection for the vines. My father lived to the ripe old age of almost ninety-nine- he died some eighteen months ago - and it was never a vineyard in his time. It became a brickfield and produced very fine red clay. It was worked by a man named Nabor. My father told me that. most of the red brick houses in Vicarage Road and Bowling Road were built from red clay out of the Vineyard. When the clay was worked out, it became pieces of smallholding and allotments; my father had three-quarters of an acre there, every inch of it dug with a fork. And it was very good ground, terrifically good ground, and he worked it for many, many years, until it was acquired by the Council to build the housing estate which is now King George's Road and the offshoots of King George's Road. My father also told me that before those houses were built in Vicarage Road, there were fields on both sides of Bowling Road. And there was a pole across the roadway, coming down from the Common (Musley Common) to prevent the cattle coming down off the fields and getting into the town. And - digressing for one moment now - he always said that Crib Street took its name from the fact that somewhere off the churchyard was a cattle crib, in which they impounded stray cattle - I wouldn't vouch for that, but that was his theory of Crib Street. But, anyway, on the allotments and smallholdings on the Vineyard, lots of people kept a couple of pigs in a stye and a pen of chickens and all that sort of thing. And it went on quite well and they enjoyed it and made themselves a little extra living, until it was acquired for building. And so the Vineyard was lost and I don't think even the name was retained
DR LOWERY: Is there a road still called the Vineyard?
MEMBER OF THE AUDIENCE : Yes, there is - off Cozens Road.
MR ANDREWS: But that is a long way from the original vineyard.
DR LOWERY: There is a road called the Vineyard then, but when was that built over?
MR ANDREWS: Well, Albert can tell us, because Albert had been on Ware Urban District Council for many years and, let me hasten to add, had been chairman of Ware Urban District Council, an office which -without saying anything detrimental to the present Mayors or previous Mayors -was a far more onerous job. So he will know when that land was built upon.
MR ALBERT WIGGALL: Between the wars. Well, I know a lot of you people by sight but putting labels on faces I find now is a rather tiresome business. We are talking about the U.D.C. I came to Ware in 1932 so I am not a Ware man but a man of Ware, I suppose that is how I am designated now. If you are going back into history over 51 years then Dickie (Andrews) can answer those questions but as far as this track to the Vineyard and all the rest of it I'm afraid I cannot help you.
MR ANDREWS: That was built between the wars and the first houses built on that estate were in Fanhams Road. And then it sort of progressed from there. We had at that time - this is between the wars -a very progressive Engineer and Surveyor, named Robert W. Grantham. He laid down plans for the whole of Ware and the periphery of Ware, which envisaged all sorts of things and Albert will have known of them.
MR WIGGALL: It was a great loss to the town when Mr Grantham was killed during the war. He was the one who built the swimming pool and he was a very, very capable fellow and a man with all the vim and go that you rarely met with people in his office. He was the Surveyor to the U.D.C.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: And Grantham Gardens was named after him.
SECOND LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: I've heard it said that Mr Grantham had the idea of old people's homes, as in Grantham Gardens, and so it was felt fitting when he died that the name should be changed (I've forgotten what it was called before) that the name should be changed, because he had had that idea.
The footbridge over the Victoria Cut and the back of Chapel Yard,
Amwell End, from a painting by Mr Fred Woodhouse
Amwell End in the 1920s, showing the Mission Hall and its famous clock
on the right, from a painting by Mr Fred Woodhouse
Ware then was in the forefront in providing accommodation for elderly people.
MR WIGGALL: You're quite right. He was a very capable man.
SECOND LADY: He also built the swimming pool, don't forget, out of the rubble of the buildings that were knocked down in Kibes Lane. In Kibes Lane, where the car park is now, there were very narrow streets of houses and you could shake hands across the top. When they were demolished, Mr Grantham used the rubble from that, as I understand it - my memory doesn't really go back that far, of course - and he used it to start the swimming pool. And when they came to improve it in later years, they had great difficulty in knocking down some of his construction because it was so strongly built.
MR WIGGALL: You're quite right. The rubble from Kibes Lane he put in the foundations for the swimming pool.
MR ANDREWS: That swimming pool was built by direct labour. And they put down piles there, some around 40 feet because you see it was into the bed of the river, practically, and on top of them was a raft of concrete. And it was opened - oh, well over 50 years ago, it must be nearly 60. And it has been a good pool ever since, there has been very little wrong with it.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: It was in 1934.
DR LOWERY: What other sort of things, what other developments were you involved in with the Urban District Council? Do any other developments around Ware particularly stand out in your mind?
MR WIGGALL: Well, there were so many, Mr Chairman. For my sins, I was chairman of the Housing and Development Committee practically for the whole time - with the exception of two years when I was Chairman of the Council, that was in Coronation Year. The thing that interested me most, and the thing that I was involved in most was the housing development. Of course, looking around, when I came to Ware there was nothing to the north when you got beyond Cannon's Hotel (where Snowdrop House now stands). There was nothing there, except Clark's Farm. And over to the east there was none of that development. But, going back to Grantham again, he had the foresight to lay down all the roads, so that when I came on to the scene and the housing development began to take off, then the roads were there. And that was chiefly due to this gentleman whom we are talking about - Mr Grantham. Reading through the "Reminiscences of Ware" books, I think that it is Dr May who has mentioned the population of Ware. Well, the population of Ware when I came here was not five thousand and from then on, after the war, we began to develop houses. And I remember very well, as I say, while I was chairman of the Housing and Development Committee, with every hundredth house we used to have a little party, present a key to the incoming tenant and have a glass of sherry. Well, I think I remember doing three of those little ceremonies and it was a great delight to me to see the expectation and the look on the faces of the new tenants. I have one or two photographs, which I don't propose to show here now, or we shall be here all night.
DR LOWERY: These were the photographs taken when there was too much sherry?
MR WIGGALL: Oh, no, these were not boozing affairs, you know.
DR LOWERY: But tell me, when this housing developed, was it housing associated with clearance of land in the town or was it housing to attract people in?
MR WIGGALL: No, no, you take Kingshill, for instance. Well, there was nothing to clear there because it was all green fields. That was Clark's Farm that I mentioned a moment ago. And if you take Presdales, that was owned - where Presdales School is now - that was the home of the brewer, McMullen.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: He owned all the land around there, as well.
MR WIGGALL: He did indeed, but the County Council then bought the estate from him and the County Council said at that time that they did not need all that land. They just wanted the house for the school and the immediate environment, and they offered the rest, half of it, to the U.D.C., to see if they wanted it for development. And that is what you have got over here now.
DR LOWERY: Just at the back of the vet's?
MR ANDREWS: No, further over - Presdales Drive and right over to the development in Peter's Wood. I believe Peter's Wood was named after Colonel Peter McMullen, when he was a boy, who has just retired from the firm.
MR WIGGALL: Yes, you went up there through Bluebell Wood and Ware U.D.C. took that over. And that wood up there was a real sight, it was one sheet of blue.
DR LOWERY: Did the U.D.C. own the woods on that side of the town?
MR WIGGALL: Yes, they owned right up to Bluebell Wood and to the road which Dick Andrews has mentioned. And we went through Bluebell Wood and took over a field at the back there and made it a playing field, and now youth clubs use it as football pitches and other sports.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: The remaining wood that is there is still full of bluebells. It is Post Wood.
MR ANDREWS: Mr Chairman, on that question of council houses which Albert was talking about, the first council houses in Ware were built in Croft Road. I believe in 1922 and I believe by Crook Brothers, when there were five brothers Crook. Am I right there Fred?
MR WOODHOUSE: Yes, indeed. There were George, Tom, Ernie, Wallie and Claude and the latter was an architect.
MR ANDREWS: Yes, there were five brothers Crook, all different tradesmen, a very, very good firm of builders and still existing today, of course. And Croft Road has stood the test of time and even the test of a landmine, which exploded very close to them during the war. Anyway, they were the very first council houses.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: Were they not built by the Workmen's Housing Association?
MR ANDREWS: No, the Workman's Housing Association , as I understand it, came in Mr Grantham's time, and I believe that the first of the Workman's Housing Association were the ones built on the front of Watton Road, near to Cannon's Road .
MAN IN THE AUDIENCE: How did a landmine come to be in Croft Road?
MR WIGGALL: You mean the bomb which was dropped up in the woods?
MR ANDREWS: That's right, though I was many miles away then, but I have heard all about it.
MR WIGGALL: I always remember that with a great deal of amusement really, because the flying bomb had got hung up in the trees. And I was talking to one of the council chappies, an employee of the council, and the navy came and declared it alright and fit to move. So the council went off with one or two of the local employees to fetch this bomb. They got it down and bundled it on to a lorry and brought it down to the gravel pits. And this old chap came to me afterwards because they found it was still alive. The children were playing on the thing and it wasn't until one child went home and said: 'the thing's ticking'. Well, the mother got alarmed and they found it was alive. But this old chappie with the lorry that went up to fetch this thing in Ware Park there, he said to me: ‘Mr Wiggall, oh, when I think about that!' he said: 'there I was, sat upon that thing, straddle-legged, and if it had went off it might have harmed me'. He was quite concerned when he found out what it was he had been sitting on and, of course, it was only after this child had found that it was ticking that they had to come and explode it.
DR LOWERY: Mr Woodhouse, you have lived in Ware all your life?
MR FRED WOODHOUSE: No, not all my life, just seventy years of it, anyway. When my parents moved to Ware, I was five and we lived in Garland Road, which Mr Andrews has just mentioned about. That was at the top end. And there was a lovely expanse of open fields and the Vineyard in the front of course. And right over from Trinity Road to Priorswood was all fields, agricultural land, and we used to spend our holidays and spare time in those fields. During harvest-time we always used to go gleaning, because most people in those days kept a few chickens in their back yards, and that was the regular thing for us children to go gleaning. And we used to get no end of corn to last our chickens over the wintertime. But you were not allowed in the field until the centre stook was taken away. They used to put all the corn in stooks and then they would come and collect it and leave a stook in the centre of the field, and that was there to say that you must not go into the field gleaning. Then when the drag came along - they used to drag the spare corn up - and then the centre stook was taken and then, of course, it was open for us to go gleaning. That was a very enjoyable time for us children. Another pastime we used to be taken up with was 'wooding'. As you know, most people in those little cottages they had a copper in the corner of the scullery with a fire grate underneath, and that was our job to go wooding and collecting wood for Mum's copper. That was how we spent most of our summer holidays. We would go down to the little shop and get a ha'porth (halfpennyworth) of lemonade powder and put it in a bottle, fill it with water and, of course, we would take that along with us, together with the truck and the sacks and we spent really enjoyable times.
DR LOWERY: And you went wooding on that land……?
MR WOODHOUSE: Beyond Priorswood and all round there. Nobody said anything to us. We didn't do damage, we just took the spare wood that was lying about.
DR LOWERY: Whose land was that?
MR WOODHOUSE: Well, some of it belonged to Mr Menhinick who was a farmer and they still farm in Widbury Hill, and some of it belonged to Mr Buxton, I think. And then there were a number of smaller fields which belonged to small farmers round about. But there was all really fields and I wonder how many houses there are in those fields today.
DR LOWERY: You know the Priorswood up beyond the estate? Was that managed for wood at all?
MR WOODHOUSE: No, I don't think so. It was just wood that was growing and I don't think they grew it for timber, I think.
DR LOWERY: I have been dismayed to see it slowly disappearing in recent years and I wondered what it was in fact used for.
MR ANDREWS: I should think most probably that Priorswood was a cover for game. There were a number of good shoots. Fanhams Hall had a shoot and one or two other people had shoots and I should think that Priorswood was another cover, in which the game were probably bred and where they were brought up until they were beaten out on the day of the shoot.
MR WOODHOUSE: Another thing we always looked forward to, in a child's mind, was that Mr Page always had about half a dozen horses, those big shire horses, and they always used to go up to Barley Ponds in the summer to graze at night time. They used to come up Garland Road, about half a dozen of them, clompty-clomp, and that was always something for us to look forward to, to see those horses go by . And they used to come down again in the mornings.
DR LOWERY: And that was Page's, the coal merchants was it?
MR WOODHOUSE: Yes.
DR LOWERY: And that name Barley Ponds was related to soaking barley, was it?
MR WOODHOUSE: I don't know how it got its name, but it was always pastureland when I knew it, and grazing land. There were no ponds there, although there was a small pond near Widbury House, where Lady Garforth lived, but I don't think that was connected to Barley Ponds at all.
MAN IN THE AUDIENCE: Perhaps they were dew ponds.
MR ANDREWS: The only dew ponds around here were on the north side of Fanhams Hall, on the north side of Little Fanhams and the gardens. There were two big dew ponds there, which I believe were used to provide water for the Japanese gardens, which are still in existence at Fanhams Hall today. But I never heard of any others around here.
MAN IN THE AUDIENCE: There are two at Wadesmill.
DR LOWERY: Mr Bouttell, people have been talking about this area up at Musley Lane and beyond. You live in Musley Lane, don't you, but have you always lived in that area?
MR REG BOUTTELL: No.
DR LOWERY: Well, what part did you come from.
MR BOUTTELL: I came to Ware on the last Saturday of November, 1916, and I have lived in sundry places, of course, in Ware. I came to Ware Post Office and went straight to lodgings which had been booked at 107, Star Street. That was nearly teatime and before I went to bed that night I had learned of two sorts of Ware people - some wicked cruel people to animals and some people who were very fond of music. I despised the first and enjoyed the second. This town was really full of people who really enjoyed music, there is no doubt about it.
I sat down and made a list of them. I think this is rather different to what your previous speakers have done so I think it is just as well. But it was really remarkable how many people were fond of music. First of all I will deal with the bad ones, not the bad musicians but the bad people. After they had had their tea Mrs Bollom, my dear landlady, suggested to her husband that he take me round for a walk and see a little bit of Ware perhaps. Where do you think he took me to? Straight up to Collett Road and showed me those poor deer that used to be in that field. Many of you perhaps don't know much about it, but in that field, a nice meadow sloping down, there were a lot of young deer, kept there more or less like pets you might say. Food was brought to them down from Fanhams Hall, but anyway they were kept there. And every now and then, one or two would be grabbed and pushed into a little cart, then taken to a distant part in the country where they would be set out for deerhounds and men on horses, who chased the poor little things. Now, if that wasn't disgraceful thank goodness, it didn't last - but that was one of the first things I learned in Ware. The other thing was, as I say, music and before I went to bed I learned that there were a lot of people in Ware concerned with music. And I can well understand it because my host was, in fact, the choirmaster and deputy organist at the Methodist Church. Well, I have made a list of the churches, all of which had good choirs. I have mentioned the Methodist Church. The Congregational Church had a very good choir and the Waller family were all in it. Christ Church was a good straight-forward ordinary family parish church, but the Parish Church of St. Mary's had a really exceptionally good choir and I was recommended to go there the next morning. It really was a very good choir. I well remember, it was just after the war, I should think it was 1920 or 1921, when the boys and the girls had got back to fairly normal life, they used to have at Easter time Maunder's "Olivet to Calvary" at Christ Church and Stainer's "Crucifixion" at St. Mary's. And I well remember listening to the soloist singing "I know that my Redeemer liveth" - it was Molly Govier. She was quite a young girl, in fact I am not so sure she wasn't still at the Grammar School. But she sang that solo (I can hear it now) and filled that church.
It was beautiful. Well, that was the sort of music that was produced in Ware. It really was remarkable for the size of the town, because it was only about five or six thousand population. But we had some really rich music and I thoroughly enjoyed staying here. There were other sorts of music too. As you all know, we have had a Town Band for a good many years and it's a very good one. Then there was a Salvation Band which used to be out every Saturday evening and their singers on the Market Place. And, as if that wasn't enough, they used to be out on Sunday mornings immediately after breakfast in the residential parts, like Vicarage Road or up at Musley, until they walked off to church at 11 o'clock. On top of that, of course, there was another sort of music from the church because the church clock at St. Mary's used to play a tune every three hours - at three, six, nine and twelve. For five minutes the church clock used to play a tune. I can't remember them all, but I can remember one which was "Oh Rest in the Lord", which is perhaps not surprising. There was another one which was "Girls and Boys, Come out to play". But I can't remember the others.
MR WOODHOUSE: "The Bluebells of Scotland".
MR BOUTTELL: Yes, one can't forget the "Bluebells of Scotland". Now let me see. There were some itinerant musicians used to come into Ware. There was a man named Cheshire from Hertford, who used to bring a big, huge harp and a little stool and play in the street and make a collection. But I don't remember him staying very long, I don't think he did very good business. But there was another one and I know more about him, because he was more persistent. He was Whistling Billy from Bishop's Stortford who came on Tuesdays, which was of course Market day. And he used to come regularly and stand in the doors of the public houses, half in and half out, with his tin whistle and I don't know whether it was the smell of the beer or the taste of it, but it used to make him dribble and some notes seemed to get more dribble than wind. But he was a very faithful man and he was always there and went on for years.
So, we had quite a variety of music. Then of course there were concert parties and so forth, which revelled in it. It was really surprising the number of houses which had pianos and we used to go out into one another's houses - this is long before the whole thing was spoiled by broadcasting, of course - and we used to have musical evenings and gather round the piano. We really were one happy family, there's no doubt about it. And anyway that is the way things were until the days of broadcasting. And our churches were well-attended, of course, too. And there was a Choral Society too and they had their concerts regularly.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: And still do.
MR BOUTTELL: But I shall never forget young Miss Govier, singing that solo because it was beautifully done.
MR ANDREWS: Her father was the organist and choirmaster at St. Mary's, Nelson Govier.
MR BOUTTELL: Yes he was a truly exceptional man. In Ware at that time, there were a lot of amateur theatricals and so on, but it was generally songs and music. Apart from that, there is a little thing that I discovered not very long ago, and who can tell me where Skippers' Row is?
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: In Musley Hill.
MR BOUTTELL: But it was not known as Musley Hill at that time, it was Constitution Hill, and my authority for saying that is that a few years ago I spotted that two houses, Number 9 and Number 11 Musley Hill, had a stone tablet, saying: "Skippers' Row, Constitution Hill, These houses built with stone blocks obtained from the farm buildings in the Priory Farm, 1849". The tablet is on Number 9 really but it applies to both houses, which were built with stone blocks and there they were, one could see them, from the Priory Farm - the Priory Farm, in case anyone doesn't know was between Church Street, Crib Street, Baldock Street and up towards the Bourne. But you can't see the stone now because that particular house has been plastered over and whitewashed. Why, I don't know; I can only suppose it was a bit confusing strangers coming and looking for Musley Hill and seeing a great big stone, which was indestructible, saying it was Constitution Hill. It probably caused some trouble.
Those two houses were built with materials taken out of the Priory Farm, in what was a lane but is now Coronation Road. And those houses in Coronation Road were built later by one of the Hanburys, the grandson of the Hanbury who built Christ Church (this was the malting family of Hanbury, who lived at Poles, not the Allen and Hanbury's branch of the family - ed.). Mr Hanbury cleared a slum which was on the main road and those who were removed by the building of the Drill Hall, at Amwell End, and settled them here. Where the Drill Hall now stands, no less than 24 dwellings were, which were no more than hovels. Well, Mr Hanbury built these houses in Coronation Road to rehouse the people from the main road (Baldock Street) and from down Amwell End. I'II leave it at that, gentlemen.
DR LOWERY: Thank you. Mr Andrews, you used to know this Priory Farm, didn't you?
MR ANDREWS: No, I can't say I knew a Priory Farm. The nearest farm in Ware was Clark's Farm in Wadesmill Road. That was the nearest farmhouse within the confines of the town. There was another in Hoe Lane. There was a farm there, owned by the Spencers and people named Cribbin had it before that. They were the nearest farms within the confines of the town.
MAN IN THE AUDIENCE: And Trinity Farm.
MR ANDREWS: Oh, Trinity Farm, yes, indeed. Of course, Trinity Farm was well outside the town, because there were no houses for about a quarter of a mile when Trinity Farm was really in existence.
DR LOWERY: And Trinity Farm was up beyond Trinity Road.
MR ANDREWS: Yes, in Fanhams Hall Road.
MR IAN VERNON: What about Musley House in Homefield Road. Homefield suggests a farm doesn't it? Was that ever a farm?
MR ANDREWS: No. It was always known as Homefield Road, and in fact where the bungalows are on the South of Homefield Road, two ladies kept some Jersey cows and a man looked after them and milked them. And one lady had a house in Homefield Road and she was a great benefactor of the Congregational Church.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: Miss Adams.
MR ANDREWS: Miss Adams, yes, well done. Actually, the Misses Adams because I think there were two. And that field stretched from Musley Hill to High Oak Road, on the south side of Homefield Road. As I said, they had a man a general factotum who looked after the cows.
MR WOODHOUSE: Mr Parker.
MR BOUTTELL: May I add a word about this farm? There is a little stream, a brook which comes out of the Roundhouse grounds and runs along level, near High Oak Road, and then it disappears now. But originally that crossed the Bourne and then to this farm that I am telling you about (Priory Farm) and it went across the main road, across the recreation ground (Buryfield), across Priory Street and joined the river in the Priory grounds. The gentleman who bought the Priory and used it as a private residence did not want to have water running along his grounds so he piped it down. But if you go on to the towing path and look, you can see this pipe coming out where the hut is, which is used by the Housing Department of East Herts District Council. But that came down through this farm which we are talking about.
MAN IN THE AUDIENCE: There was also another farm in Watton Road where Charvills had their petrol station, behind Park Road and almost at the bottom of Cannons Road. He had pigs and also a milk round.
MR WIGGALL: Yes, that's right, Tidy.
MAN IN THE AUDIENCE: Tidy, Untidy, they used to call him.
MR ANDREWS: But really, they only brought the cows there to milk. The cows were grazed down by the river, down by the lock, and they were brought up to Watton Road to be milked. And they had a milk business.
DR LOWERY: Were there any other dairymen in Ware? Can people think of any of the names of them?
MR WOODHOUSE: There was Wilkinson and Presland, Attwood in Baldock Street and Fisher in Star Street.
MR ANDREWS: And Lee's. Fred Lee on Market Place. They had a cafe, a workman's cafe, on the Market Place. They kept cows down on Marsh Gate - Marsh Lane - and they milked them down there. That was quite an extensive retail milk business.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: Can you tell us about Blackmore's?
MR ANDREWS: Oh, yes, up New Road, on the right hand side of New Road - 40 New Road. That was Blackmore's Dairy, but I don't think they kept any cows.
MR WOODHOUSE: No, they used to get their milk from Menhinick's Farm, in Widbury Hill.
DR JOAN DIXON: But there were cowsheds. We live there (40 New Road) and there were cowsheds all the way round and we have got the concrete footings and the remains of the mangers there.
MR ANDREWS: That was before my time.
MR WOODHOUSE: Blackmore's used to come and deliver round to our house. He had a little three-wheeled truck, with a little churn in this hand-pushed truck. He would come round with a can and serve you out a half-pint or a pint. They would always put a little extra in afterwards as "a splash for the cat". (Laughter).
DR DIXON: But there were no cows there?
MR WOODHOUSE: No, not in my time.
MR ANDREWS: You see, there was all open ground beyond where you live, before Kiln House Close was built.
DR DIXON: There were maltings there.
MR ANDREWS: No, there was open ground, because Harradence's (the Department store in the High Street (now “Hair to Ware”) kept their horses in fields on the south side of Musley Lane.
MR WOODHOUSE: The malting did project a little bit down but, as you say, there were fields in Musley Lane right up to Bowling Road.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: I was going to ask, was there ever a blacksmith's in Ware?
MR ANDREWS: Well, of course, the best known one was the Old Forge and Mr Woodhouse has got a picture of the Old Forge, which stood right against St. Mary's Church. And that was run by Mr York.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: They are still there in Priory Street.
MR . ANDREW : Yes, they moved across the road and have their iron works in Priory Street (now a row of townhouses opposite the Priory), but they had the forge. And they did a lot of business for the simple reason that they plated the racehorses from Fanhams Hall. At Fanhams Hall, they had a racing stud which was kept at Noah's Ark Farm and the horses were never ridden by the boys from Fanhams Hall, they were always led. And they used to come down High Oak Road and Crib Street to York's to be plated - a racehorse is not shod, as you know, it is plated. Of course, York's did all sorts of farrier work there. And coming out of the old St. Mary's school, we used to stand in that very gateway there which Mr Woodhouse has depicted, in the double door, and watch them shoeing horses.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: And there was Jim Nicholson, as well, remember, in Amwell End. My father was a bargee and I remember the horses being shod there. Mr Nicholson's place may still be there; it is next to Whybrew and Case (now an estate agent next to the Drill Hall) and the archway is still there.
MR WOODHOUSE: Yes, the archway is still there. That's a saddler's now where the George public house was.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: He used to shoe the barge horses, because Ware was full of bargees because of the maltings.
DR LOWERY: You used to live down in that part of the town, in Amwell End, did you?
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: Yes, and when you were talking earlier about Bluebell Wood, we knew it as Walnutree Walk, and that was full of bluebells. It was a private wood and Colonel Richardson owned it.
MR WOODHOUSE: There was another blacksmith's down in Bowling Road, the name of Elliott and he was also a wheelwright and he built carts as well.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: Whereabouts in Bowling Road?
MR WOODHOUSE: It was at the bottom end of Bowling Road, where they have built two houses now, two flats, right opposite the school field. That's where Elliotts were. As boys, we used to take our hoops there to be mended and it would cost us our pocket money, a penny.
MR ANDREWS: That was about fifty yards, going down towards the town on the left-hand side. Elliott's were wheelwrights and they were followed by Mr Bishop, the father of Mr Albert Bishop who has the television shop in the High Street.
MAN IN THE AUDIENCE: It was a garage after that.
MR ANDREWS: That's right, it was a garage afterwards.
MR BOUTTELL: I haven't heard a word mentioned about the river. Fancy the history of Ware and not a mention of the river, so I will try to put in a little bit of information which came to my knowledge some time ago. You know the story about the help during the Plague of London and the Ware bargeman having the right of a drink at any pub, at any time of the day or night, provided it was on the return journey - not on the way up to London. But this piece of information is very similar. Way back in the 16th or 17th centuries, the Dutch were very much our enemies and they blockaded the North Sea and came up the Thames and did some damage, and that sort of thing. Well, that interrupted the trade in sea coal, which was being brought into London and being extensively used where they only had charcoal before. It was brought down from Northumberland, Durham and so on down the North Sea into the Thames. Well, the Dutch action put a stop to that for the time being. So the sea-coal was brought down from the North to King's Lynn and then transported - and I will give you the different stages and the charges. From King's Lynn it went by river boat to Cambridge at a penny per cauldron (I'm afraid I can't tell you how much a cauldron was). From Cambridge, the coal was brought to Ware on horseback at twopence a cauldron. At Ware it went into the barges and finished the journey to London - I am not quite sure of the price but I am pretty sure it was at fivepence a cauldron. It sounds to me as if the barge owners were taking advantage of the wartime to make a profit. I know the distances because I have travelled the distances many times during the last war. Every week, I went to Cambridge and to King's Lynn and I know the roads. They were transporting the coal roughly for a distance of 45 to 50 miles for a penny, but the horse transport from Cambridge was double that for a lesser distance. And then from Ware to London the distance is only 30 miles or so and they were getting fourpence or fivepence. It looks as though Ware did not deserve any medals on that occasion, because they got well paid for it. When I saw it, I said to myself that those Ware blokes were wartime profiteers.
MR WOODHOUSE: Can I have a word about the Mission Hall? Some of you may not remember the Mission Hall, but it was built in conjunction with Christ Church by the same benefactor. If it had still been standing today (in Amwell End) it would have been a hundred years' old. But it was demolished in 1958. It had a clock on the front of it, standing out over the path and on one side it had "Time Flies" and on the other side it has "Delay Not", but that was quite something in those days to have a clock in the road. That was very much used, the Scouts had the use of it for their headquarters, Christ Church Sunday School used to use it and the Bible Class. The Misses French, who used to be connected with French's Flour Mill, used to run the Bible Class, and an old lady named Miss Camp used to be the caretaker there. A little to the side of the Mission Hall, but still in the premises, there was a little brick building which belonged to the St. John's Ambulance Association and that contained the litter, the ambulance litter, which was a sort of stretcher on big wheels with a big canvas canopy over the head part of it, like a pram hood. When they had an accident, they used to get this litter, go out to the accident, wheel it down to the station, wait for a train, put it in the guard's van, transport it to Hertford, take it out the other end and wheel it up to the County Hospital. And that was how the patients were transported in those days. I think it was 1928 when Ware Division had the first ambulance and, of course, the litter was then not used.
DR LOWERY: But, when you say that the men would take this off to the railway station, were these part-time St. John's Ambulance men?
MR WOODHOUSE: They were all volunteers.
DR LOWERY: Like the Ware Fire Brigade. But does any- body know about the Fire Brigade?
MR WIGGALL: No, I am not a Fire Brigade man. But I would like to have a word, if I may, Mr Chairman, about the perimeter of Ware. But I think the most interesting street in Ware was Baldock Street. Now, there you had a street and it fascinated me when I first came to Ware because I bought a business in Baldock Street. You could take both sides from the War Memorial up to the present roundabout and you had a character in every house. They were marvellous. I remember when we first came to Ware, you could see an old chap that had a motorbike and that was quite an innovation, you know, and also to have a sidecar on the side, that was something. But he had no garage, so when he wanted to take his lady out for a ride, he brought the motorbike out through the front door, propped it up and then went and fetched the sidecar, brought that out and connected it up. And away they went. Of course, when he came back, it was the same thing in reverse. There was another thing which used to fascinate me and my children, that was to see people shooing a donkey through the front door. There were quite a few.
MR WOODHOUSE: The chap with the motorbike was John Rogers, the bootmaker, next to Cruse (now a beauty parlour on the corner of Priory Street).
MAN IN THE AUDIENCE: What sort of year are we talking about?
MR WIGGALL: What year? Oh, 1932 or 1933. We came to Ware in 1932 and it was quite new to us. But you could take both sides of Baldock Street and there were some tremendous characters.
DR LOWERY: What sort of street was Baldock Street? Was it a residential street or was it a business street?
MR WIGGALL: It was mixed. You started with Cruse the bakers on the corner (of Priory Street). which is in operation up to the present moment. And there was a doctor (Dr Stewart) and we had all sorts of people there. We had Baker the Butcher. We had solicitors and we had hairdressers - that was Mr Wiggall and Co. And in every one of those small houses you had real characters in themselves. It was a real fascinating street. Of course, it is a little bit different today, but not much.
MAN IN THE AUDIENCE: The building which is now Ware Music (8 Baldock Street (now Herts College of Music)) looks a very interesting building. Was that a private house?
MR WIGGALL: When we first came here, that was a furniture shop. And he was a character in himself, Mr Sanders. Where Mr Surridge lives now, (31 Baldock Street (part of Herts College of Music)) next door there was one little cottage, I remember. And next door the premises were Bowyer and Burgess, plumbers and decorators (now Travis Perkins). It was the most fascinating street in Ware.
MR ANDREWS: There was one shop in Baldock Street, a tailor's shop, which belonged to Harry Frost. Next door to the Salvation Army (Papa John’s). A great friend of mine kept it named George Slater, and he told me more than once that he had a family that he had served for three generations in his shop. And when they first came to him, they would come with their harvest money which was thirty-five shillings. He was able to equip five little lads with Norfolk suits, that was knickerbockers and the old Norfolk jacket, and give them coppers in change out of thirty-five shillings in old money. He told me that tale many times. He told me that he had the great pleasure in serving three generations of that family. But, I think that what Albert was also trying to tell us was that half the population of Ware lived in Amwell End and Baldock Street. Easily half the population of Ware, for the simple reason that Amwell End, for example, had yards on either side - Cherry Tree Yard next to the Drill Hall probably housed two dozen families. And there were yards on both sides there and probably the population of Amwell End must have been hundreds and hundreds. And, of course, Baldock Street was the same. The biggest housing part of Baldock Street was a place called Caroline Court, which was where Charvill's Garage now stands (now Ermine Court). And there were houses along the front which were quite imposing houses - up a couple of steps to the front door. And where Mr Wiggall's second shop was, not the first one, there was a yard down there with two or three cottages. One old chap (Mr Lowe) used to mend prams, I remember. Do you remember that, Albert?
MR WIGGALL: Of course, that was Albert Yard.
MR ANDREWS: Named after yourself?
MR WIGGALL: Yes, they knew I was coming. The cottages on the left hand side had been demolished but there were two or three cottages on the right and the old chap who lived in the first one, well, he had three cottages full of prams. You never saw such a sight in all your life.
DR LOWERY: Mr Wiggall, earlier on when you were talking about the housing development which was carried out by the Ware Urban District Council, was that development associated with the demolition of these yards?
MR WIGGALL: No, the yard we were talking about at the top of Baldock Street has been taken over by the garage now (Charvill’s Garage now Ermine Court). . And the Waggon and Horses public house which stood on the corner, well that's gone. But the biggest developments which have taken place in Ware since the war, well there was not much demolition to provide the ground for them. If you take the Kingshill Estate, for instance, that was Clark's Farm - well, there were no houses on that. If you take Presdales....
DR LOWERY: What I was wondering really was whether it was slum-clearance, and whether the houses were built to accommodate the people who moved out of these yards?
MR WIGGALL: What you must understand is that, after the war, the population began to rise in Ware and people came in from London actually during the war. Some of them stayed and the families grew up and, as a consequence, Ware had to build houses. I think Ware should be very proud of what it did after the war, so far as house building is concerned. And I am certain of one thing: some of the houses that they built are the finest council houses in the country. As a matter of fact, the houses on Presdales, for instance, you go and look at them. I don't know if there is anybody here from Presdales.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: Well, I live in Presdales Drive, in the council houses opposite. You wouldn't know that they were council houses at all.
MR WIGGALL: First class houses. As a matter of fact, I remember the Surveyor of the U.D.C. and I went to Cambridge for a conference where the Housing Minister was there, and we sat and listened to other authorities round about the area talking about what they had done. I remember my Surveyor saying to me: what do you think about it? And I said, well, we have got houses that are far advanced in design. They are very good houses and I think Ware can be proud of its housing record since the war.
MR ANDREWS: Definitely, there were demolitions in which the people were re-housed. Take for instance Kibes Lane, which was a very narrow lane, very densely populated. They were mostly rehoused on the Fanhams Hall Estate - King George's Road. Even so far as there were two pubs in Kibes Lane, one called "The Harrow" and they established "The Harrow" up in Fanhams Road, and the other one was "The Bargeman" and they established a new "Bargeman" at the top of Queen's Road. So you see, they did actually demolish areas and then re-house the people.
DR BILL MAY: That was about 1930, that you are talking about, in between the wars. In between the wars, in Mr Grantham's time, there was a lot of slum-clearance and he built the swimming baths and so on. And that is when the demolition took place. And then we had the Second World War, when there was no building, and Mr Wiggall got on the Council and they built houses for the new people coming into Ware.
LADY IN THE AUDIENCE: I would like to question you about Kibes Lane carpark. I remember when I came to Ware in 1961 that there was a plaque on the wall which said that piece of land had been given to Ware by a Mrs Somebody or-other. It's not there anymore, is it?
MR ANDREWS: Well, I am sure - and Mr . Woodhouse can probably confirm this - that that was a Miss Adams again. I believe they gave a piece of land there. You see there was a Quaker Burial Ground in Kibes Lane and I believe that a piece of land was given by the Misses Adams to the town.
MR WOODHOUSE: I don't know.
MR JOHN FLETCHER: (Ware Town Clerk): That was lost for a long while. Then a friend of mine found it down at the Council Depot in Priory Street and the Town Council now have the plaque. It is very difficult to read now because a lot of the letters have gone, but I did understand from Mr Southall (the last Clerk to Ware U.D.C.) that that plaque was rather misleading. They stuck it up and it read: this piece of land was given for the benefit of the people of Ware. But it did not refer to the whole carpark, it referred to the site of two cottages which used to be on the frontage of New Road. So a small portion of it was given and the rest of it came with the clearance of the slums. But the plaque is still in the possession of Ware Town Council.
MR BOUTTELL: As you were talking about density of buildings, I think Bridgefoot wants a bit of beating. At the Bridgefoot, there was a big malting, running along beside the river, two public houses and a brewery and a saddler's shop. I know those facts because I verified them with the saddler's daughter. That was just between the river bridge and the entrance to Star Street, all that set of buildings.
DR LOWERY: Well, ladies and gentlemen, we could go on. I think that perhaps it is appropriate that we ought to stop at this moment and give you the opportunity to talk informally among yourselves or to address any questions to our speakers, if you would like to sidle up and make any points. And also to give you the opportunity of looking at Mr Woodhouse's paintings, about which he has said nothing but I am sure he would be prepared to. So on behalf of the Ware Society I would like to thank our speakers for this evening and all of you who have taken part from the audience and draw this meeting to its close.